China Power | Politics | East Asia

Hong Kong Activists Barred From Travel to Macau on Day of Xi Visit

On the 20th anniversary of Macau’s return to Chinese control, Beijing wants Hong Kong to learn from its fellow special administrative region.

By Johnson Lai for
Hong Kong Activists Barred From Travel to Macau on Day of Xi Visit
Credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Diego Delso

A ferry company barred a group of Hong Kong protesters, including a well-known pro-democracy activist, from boarding a boat Wednesday to Macau, where Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived for a much-trumpeted visit.

Like Hong Kong, Macau has a separate legal system from mainland China. In recent weeks, ahead of this week’s 20th anniversary of Macau’s return to Chinese control, state media have touted the former Portuguese colony as a shining example of how “one country, two systems” can work.

“The experience and unique characteristics gained from conscientiously implementing the policy of ‘one country, two systems’ is worth reviewing,” Xi said in remarks after he landed.

This same principle has been questioned during months of anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong.

Ahead of Xi’s arrival, activist Leung Kwok-hung, also known as “Long Hair,” and about 10 protesters held up posters of Xi and Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam in a Hong Kong shopping center beside a terminal with ferries to neighboring Macau. They spoke about the five demands Hong Kong’s protesters have issued, which include greater democracy, and recalled the Tiananmen Square democracy movement that the military crushed in 1989.

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The group was prevented from boarding a ferry. Their travel company handed them a Macau police notice that said Leung and others intended to disrupt activities around the 20th anniversary of the handover, prompting authorities to ban them from entering the territory.

“The Chinese government claims they want to make Macau a global financial center, like a second Hong Kong,” Leung said. “But how can you convince people to invest there if you stop them from going?”

An elite pro-Beijing panel selected Ho Iat-seng, a pro-establishment businessman and politician, as Macau’s new chief executive in August. In contrast to Hong Kong, Macau residents have exhibited far less resistance to the Communist Party-ruled central government.

The region is the world’s largest casino gambling market, raking in revenues dwarfing the Las Vegas Strip.

By Johnson Lai for The Associated Press. Associated Press writer Yanan Wang in Beijing contributed to this report.